1st Executive Blog

05 Jun Executive Search and the Globalisation of Senior Executives since the Financial Crisis

Since the global financial crisis of 2008, the international movement of senior executives has undergone significant shifts. Companies worldwide have embraced executive search processes to identify and recruit top talent from across borders. There are now key markets for importing and exporting senior executives and other trends have emerged. Australia too has been affected by these trends


Top Markets for Importing and Exporting Senior Executives.

  1. United States: The United States remains a dominant player in both importing and exporting senior executives. Typically they move within an existing corporate structure or within an industry sector. However, the incidence of US grown senior executives with international experience before they move is often lower than other markets. As companies seek greater cultural integration, US companies are more likely to look overseas. At 1st Executive,  we have introduced Japanese ex-pats working in Australia to new job opportunities in Japan for US corporations.
  2. United Kingdom: The United Kingdom is arguably the most international market – particularly when it comes to exporting talent, while London, in particular, is a hub for international executives. The UK offers diversity of opportunity and Brits are comfortable across Europe, North America, Asia and in Australia and NZ.
  3. China: For the last ten years or more, executive search projects have seen China attract western talent to senior posts. Chinese talent learns quickly and there are now more locally grown CEOs in China as well as a regular outflow of Chinese talent to the west and into other Asian markets.
  4. Germany: Germany, with its strong manufacturing and engineering base, is an attractive market for senior executives in and from companies with engineering, manufacturing or other technical bases. This is particularly true of movement into other European markets.
  5. India: India has emerged as a major market for importing senior executives due to its rapid economic growth and particular strengths in IT.
  6. Australia: Australia has always been a popular destination for executive talent. However, Executive Search work has seen the targeted movement of Australians into overseas companies in markets such as Asia, USA & Canada, the UK and Western Europe. Industries such as mining have seen considerable movement of Australian executives into far flung locations.

Importing senior executives to Australia has allowed companies to tap into global expertise and more diverse perspectives. Australian businesses see the value of international talent in navigating international markets, expansion and innovation.

The international movement of senior executives has contributed to the overall growth and development of Australia's business landscape. It has fostered a more interconnected global business community, enhancing Australia's position as a hub for regional trade and investment.


Top 5 Executive Search Driven Trends in the International Movement of Senior Executives

  1. Increasing Cross-Border Recruitment: The global financial crisis triggered a shift towards increased executive search efforts targeting senior executives across international borders. Companies know the value of diverse perspectives and foreign leaders will often have experience in new trends that are mainstream elsewhere and still emerging in Australia.
  2. Focus on Emerging Markets: As emerging markets grow, more senior executives being exported to those regions to sustain growth and mitigate risk. This has affected both executive search and interim management. Companies recognize the need for local expertise and cultural understanding to develop emerging markets.
  3. Diversity and Inclusion: The push for diversity and inclusion has influenced the executive search industry’s movement of senior executives. The EU for instance has more advanced ESG structures and regulation today than Australia does.
  4. Skills and Expertise Alignment: Advances in technology, full employment, talent shortages and ageing populations in the west have seen specialist executive search projects emerge to accelerate skills development in digital transformation, data analytics, cybersecurity, and sustainability. Not doing so produces competitive disadvantage.
  5. Talent Exchange Programs: Particularly prominent in healthcare, science and advanced engineering where executive search has supported talent exchange programs to enhance development, and develop skills quickly.



While the global financial crisis almost stopped executive movement for a time, the risks that it uncovered were a catalyst for future growth across many industries learning, at least metaphorically, the lessons of the crisis. Key players have emerged, and the global knowledge economy has boomed since.

The impact of the international movement of senior executives on Australia has been significant. The country's developed economy and regional influence has seen executive search deliver senior executives from diverse backgrounds and global markets

Australia is now a more globally connected economy at multiple levels of management and executive search firms with international networks have grown. How trends in AI in particular will affect this in the next ten years remains to be seen. It is worth noting though that while commentators have often foretold the doom of this industry, executive search and recruitment firms have consistently been at the forefront of early adoption of technology.